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    5 Tips For Safely Reopening Your Bay Area Office

    Posted by James Williams

    Posted on 14th May 2020 in Cubicles, Office Culture


    Most of the Bay Area is still several weeks away from reopening. Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and San Clara counties extended stay-at-home orders through at least May 31. The City of Berkeley issued a similar directive. But many businesses were allowed to reopen on May 4. Governor Gavin Newsom launched Stage 2 of the state's reopening plan Friday, May 8. Florist, sporting goods stores, music stores, apparel stores and more opened for curbside. The governor acknowledged that the Bay Area extended it stay-at-home order through the end of the month, adding "that is their right." San Francisco Mayor London Breed indicated the city and county would move into Phase 2 next week.

    People are getting cabin fever and are anxious to get back to work and get life back to as normal as possible. The general public is trusting government officials to make the right calls. A Pew Research Center survey was conducted April 7 to 12. A healthy majority, 66%, said they are more concerned about shelter-in-place and social distancing directives being lifted too quickly than too soon.

    Many people have been working from home this entire time. Several large companies, including Nationwide Insurance, Barclays and Mondelez, have discovered the benefits of hybrid/work-from-home models. They expect to make these moves permanent, according to a CNBC report. But permanent work-from-home models are neither feasible nor prudent for retailers, the medical industry, and companies that require frequent collaboration and communication among their staffs and/or customers.

    The responsibility is shared between employer and employees to keep everyone safe. But companies must set examples and enforce safety measures to ensure everyone's well-being.

    Six-foot markers

    Social distancing is a fairly easy concept. Providing workers subtle reminders is the best way to keep everyone on the same page. Use colored taped on floors of restrooms and cafeterias to mark safe social distances. Utilize the entirety of your office space. Separate seating in waiting areas and conference rooms. Meetings should be limited only to those whose presence is absolutely necessary.

    Diligent cleaning, disinfecting

    Custodians typically cleaned offices once or maybe twice per week before COVID-19. The CDC recommends bleach-based solutions or those containing 70% alcohol for cleaning hard surfaces, doorknobs, desks, phones, electronics, etc. These tasks should be done multiple times per day. If someone leaves work sick, wait 24 hours before thoroughly cleaning their workstation. Use latex glove when performing cleaning tasks.

    Everyone in the office can chip in to keep the office clean. But it may be in your company's best interest to simply hire a full-time custodian.

    Update sick policy

    A 2019 Robert Half survey found that 90% of workers reported to the office while sick at some point that year. People do this for many reasons - to preserve vacation time, strengthening consideration for promotions, etc. Add language to your sick-leave policy to ensure workers are not punished for calling out sick. Keep electronic thermometers with disposable covers in the office. Anyone coughing or sneezing should be checked. Send them home if they have a fever.

    Encourage hygienic practices

    Subtle reminders around the office have a bigger impact on hygienic practices than you might expect. Place signs on bathroom doors that say something like "did you wash your hands?" Hand sanitizer should be readily available in common areas and between cubicles. Provide masks for those who want them. But encourage workers to bring their own as well to preserve resources.

    Office partitions and plexiglass barriers

    Open office workstations took the world by storm in this past decade. But the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing companies to make adjustments on the fly. Office partitions are the perfect temporary solution to separate workstations. Cubicles and similar workstations can be retrofitted with plexiglass safety barriers in a matter of 7-10 days.

    Eco Office is open during the COVID-19 lockdowns, providing essential plexiglass shields and office partitions to prepare companies for reopening in June. Give us a call at 408-437-1700 to make an appointment today.

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